ERIC Number: ED498399
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2006-May
Reference Count: 7
Citizen Mobilization and Community Institutions: The Public Education Network's Policy Initiatives
Turnbull, Brenda J.
Public Education Network
This report analyzes the results of a bold set of initiatives designed to stimulate and support public responsibility for public education in 14 locales around the country. Local education funds (LEFs) led these initiatives, which received support from the Annenberg Foundation through the LEFs' national organization, the Public Education Network (PEN). In each of the three initiatives, the LEFs were expected to lead a process of community engagement in one area of local education policy: equipping students to meet the standards set forth in accountability systems; improving teaching quality; or strengthening school-community ties. Based on the analysis of this evidence, the evaluators conclude that in one of the participating sites, the ambitious ideal of the initiatives was very substantially realized. In that site--Mobile, Alabama--the LEF organized broad based public participation by Mobile County residents in articulating a vision for the education of all children, pressing for school improvement aligned with that vision, and monitoring the system's progress. Policy and practice have changed in response to public engagement. The success achieved in Mobile demonstrates that the aims of the initiatives are in fact reachable. Evidence from the other sites suggests that the vision could eventually be realized elsewhere, as well. Nearly all of the participating sites broadened participation in policy conversations and saw some changes in policy, although the public was not the driving force for policy change in these other sites. A few participating LEFs made little progress toward realizing the vision of more broad-based and active public responsibility. In each of these cases, staff changes and competing organizational priorities weakened the focus on the initiatives' aims--although even in these sites there were activities consistent with the initiatives, with some resulting response from the public. Aside from these few least-successful sites, all the other LEFs saw many instances of individuals and organizations in the community attending events, raising their voices for school reform, planning together, and taking action. Most also saw some changes in policy and practice. Whether the public will continue to support and press for a shared policy vision remains an open question at this time, but groundwork is in place for such a result in most of the participating sites. Because the design of the PEN policy initiatives is unconventional in education reform--not centered on the work of the professionals in school systems, but instead straddling schools and community in order to strengthen both--this report contains a good deal of description of the work that was done and the community response that ensued. Public responsibility is a new field of endeavor in education reform, and this report seeks to contribute to the field by building a descriptive base of knowledge about it. The report also analyzes the strengths and weaknesses found in the implementation of the initiatives, identifying both local and national factors. The following are appended: (1) Individual Site Summaries; and (2) Behavioral Outcomes Indicating Public Responsibility. (Contains 1 exhibit and 1 table.)
Descriptors: Citizen Participation, Vision, Teacher Effectiveness, School Restructuring, Public Education, Accountability, Educational Change, Citizenship Responsibility, Educational Policy, Educational Improvement, Educational Quality, School Community Relationship
Public Education Network. 601 Thirteenth Street NW Suite 710 South, Washington, DC 20005-3808. Tel: 202-628-7460; Fax: 202-628-1893; e-mail: PEN@PublicEducation.org; Web site: http://www.publiceducation.org/publications.asp
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Annenberg Foundation, St. Davids, PA.
Authoring Institution: Public Education Network, Washington, DC.; Policy Studies Associates, Inc., Washington, DC.
Identifiers - Location: Alabama